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What’s Really Inside? Shocking Anatomy of a Hot Dog
Last year, Americans purchased more than 700 million packages of hot dogs at retail stores (and that’s excluding sales from Wal-Mart, which doesn’t report numbers). Figure in restaurants, food carts, circuses, ballparks and the like, and that’s a lot of dogs. In fact, the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council estimates that Americans consume 20 billion hot dogs annually.
The country’s most beloved tube of meat is Sara Lee’s Ball Park brand, which eclipsed sales of Oscar Mayer in 2010. Other media outlets have pulled back the curtain on hot dog ingredients in the past — and since we’re at the start of prime hot dog season, it seems as good a time as any to take another look at the who’s who of hot dog ingredients.
So without further ado, before the Fourth of July grills are aflame, here’s the skinny on America’s winning wiener, the Original Ball Park frank:
Mechanically separated turkey: Looking more like strawberry frosting than blended meat and bone bits, the USDA defines mechanically separated poultry (MSP) as “a paste-like and batter-like poultry product produced by forcing bones, with attached edible tissue, through a sieve or similar device under high pressure to separate bone from the edible tissue.” Hot dogs can contain any amount of mechanically separated chicken or turkey.
Pork: According to 1994 USDA rules, any meat labeled as the meat it is can be taken off the bone by advanced meat recovery (AMR) machinery that “separates meat from bone by scraping, shaving, or pressing the meat from the bone without breaking or grinding the bone.”
Water The USDA states that hot dogs must contain less than 10 percent water.
Corn syrup: A combo of cornstarch and acids, corn syrup is used as a thickener and sweetener, as MSNBC notes — it contains no nutrients but does add extra calories.